By Leonardo Gottems, Reporter for AgroPages
talked exclusively to João Pedro Cury, CEO of Santa Clara Agrociência, who is promoting the 5th Santa Clara International Conference this month. In this interview, he talked about the company’s plans for global expansion, its research and development of new technologies, and the launch of new products.
What makes Santa Clara different, and what are your expansion plans?
At Santa Clara Agrociencia, our innovative proposal is to use things that are alive, the plants themselves, their extracts, the microbiology to protect against threats. The idea is to use active natural ingredients, which led us to develop Eras. We are also encouraging farmers to produce crops in a professional manner and promote plant protection, facilitating verticalization, logistics and transportation.
We aim to make Santa Clara Agrociência among the 15 largest companies in the sector in Brazil by the end of the 2019/2020 season, to become a leading Brazilian agrochemical multinational. We already operate outside Brazil, so we are big, but we want to become a famous company. During the next Brazilian harvest, our exports will jump from 9% to 20% in terms of foreign sales. We are present in 33 countries in Latin America, Europe and Africa, as well as in the United Arab Emirates.
Even though the company is family-owned, we are a model that utilises corporate governance, so we do everything professionally, with managers and executives who adopt the macro-economic decisions that we make as a board of directors. We also use the SAP platform, which makes our entire company aligned and auditable. In fact, we are going to go through external auditing at the end of this year, 2019. We have been harassed by other companies that want to acquire Santa Clara, but our planning is one of organic growth, using an international expansion model that we created to leverage the company.
What opportunities do you see in the agreement between the European Union and Mercosur?
With this agreement, the requirements related to biodefenses will increase greatly, leading to a greater need for research and stricter product certification. This requires a concerted effort to understand the public, its demand and its requirements. In other words, Brazilian suppliers will have to do their homework.
The message from the agreement is that Brazil needs to be less linear and more sustainable. In other words, we must abandon our current system of extracting, transforming and discarding. This last step should be changed to recycling. Therefore, we have launched 64 projects in five countries, involving 18 cultures, which will lead to the planned launch of five organic products for the next harvest, due to our constant search for innovation.
What is the future of Santa Clara?
In addition to Santa Clara Agrociência, the group also owns CCA, which we acquired at the end of 2018. We intend to transform it into a technology generator, and we will invest between R$8 million and R$10 million to construct a new factory. We are also partners of Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Company) and Embrapii (Brazilian Company for Research and Industrial Innovation), which will enhance our technical knowledge.
This type of partnership streamlines and facilitates the process of approving new technologies with public authorities, because they are accompanying, or rather, walking us throughout the process. For our part, we have investment heavily, slightly more than twice the average in the special pesticides market.
Our business model maintains channels of classic distribution, as well as direct sales, while adapting accordingly to the market. We still have online sales partners, but we must make sure that this type of marketing does not harm our sales team. Currently our main market is the state of Minas Gerais, which is rapidly developing in terms of grain and cereal production, but it is still a major producer of coffee in Brazil.
Around the world, we are expanding steadily into Europe, especially in the Iberian Peninsula, where we already have representation and sales. This region is Santa Clara’s gateway into the European market, but many others are being opened and developed, making the family business a true agrochemical multinational.